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A Utah man facing federal charges in the 2010 shooting death of a Millard County sheriff's deputy is not facing double jeopardy, even though he was acquitted of murder in a state trial, the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday.
Roberto Miramontes Roman, 43, claims he didn't shoot Deputy Josie Greathouse Fox during a Jan. 5, 2010 traffic stop. He was in a car with Fox's brother, Ryan Greathouse, at the time and says it was Greathouse who shot and killed her with an AK-47 when she pulled them over after they smoked methamphetamine together.
Greathouse, 40, died of a drug overdose in Las Vegas months after his sister's death. Before he died, Greathouse told deputies he bought drugs from Roman and another man shortly before his sister was killed, authorities said.
Roman initially confessed to killing Fox, but professed his innocence during a 2012 trial, saying that Greathouse had threatened him. A state jury found enough reasonable doubt to acquit Roman in the slaying, though he was convicted on charges of evidence tampering and gun violations and sentenced to up to 10 years in prison.
Federal prosecutors filed charges after Roman was acquitted in the death. Defense attorneys claimed the federal government had expressed no interest in prosecuting Roman until he was acquitted of murder, and the charges were an attempt at a "do-over."
Trying someone twice for the same offense, known as double jeopardy, is prohibited by the Fifth Amendment. But U.S. District Judge David Nuffer ruled last year that new charges are legal in the death of the 37-year-old deputy because the federal court system is separate.
The 10th Circuit Court upheld Nuffer's decision, noting that the U.S. Supreme Court has recognized the "dual sovereignty doctrine," which holds that two crimes are committed when a defendant commits a single act violating the laws of separate sovereigns.
Defense attorneys had asked the 10th Circuit Court to overrule the Supreme Court precedents, but the appeals court said, "We cannot do that."
A federal grand jury indicted Roman in September of 2013 on 11 charges, including that he intentionally killed a law enforcement officer and committed other crimes leading up to and related to the shooting of Fox. U.S. Magistrate Judge Dustin Pead scheduled a status conference in the case for July 13.